Why is a Mouse Called A Mouse?

Cat Computer Mouse.jpgWhen asked who named his most famous invention, Doug Engelbart recalled, “No one can remember. It just looked like a mouse with a tail, and we all called it that.” The wire “tail” originally came out under the user’s wrist.

Here’s a great video of Douglas Engelbert explaining and demonstrating the mouse in 1968.

Doug Engelbart reportedly conceived the mouse during a conference lecture in 1961. His first design, in 1963, used rolling wheels inspired by mechanical area-measuring devices called planimeters invented in the 1800s.

The name “mouse”, was coined at the Stanford Research Institute, derives from the resemblance of early models (which had a cord attached to the rear part of the device, suggesting the idea of a tail) to the common small rodent of the same name.
Computer Mouse
Douglas Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute invented the mouse in 1963 after extensive usability testing. Engelbart’s team called it a “bug”, one of several experimental pointing-devices developed for Engelbart’s on-Line System (NLS). The other devices were designed to exploit other body movements, for example, head-mounted devices attached to the chin or nose, but ultimately the mouse won out because of its simplicity and convenience.

The word “mouse” does not appear in Engelbart’s patent for the computer pointing device that became ubiquitous within 20 years. The knife-edged wheels each rolled in just one direction, transmitting movement information for that direction. Each slid without turning when the mouse was moved in the other direction.

Thanks to the Computer Museum for this info and great photo.



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